The Web Management Community of Practice

On Monday 18 June I will be co-facilitating a session on “New to the Sector? New to Web Management? New to IWMW?” at UKOLN’s annual IWMW 2012 event. Mike Nolan, Head of the Web Services team at Edge Hill University and Amber Thomas, programme manager at the JISC, will also be contributing to the session, with Mike giving his thoughts from the perspective of a Web manager who has had both technical and managerial responsibilities and Amber describing the ways in which JISC supports the needs of those working in institutional Web management teams.

In my talk on the role of the Innovation Support Centre at UKOLN I will focus on our involvement in the development of the Web management Community of Practice (CoP) through 16 years of the IWMW event and, in the early years, engagement on mailing lists. As described previously the two main lists used by this community have declined significantly since 2002, and now are used primarily for announcements of events, calls for papers and job advertisements. This decline is not surprising in light of the growth of a wide range of communications and collaborative tools during that time.  The challenge, however, is identifying the tools which can support the community and understanding how they can be used.  Or to put in in more concrete terms:
  • What tools are available which can support the professional interests of web managers?
  • What patterns of use of such tools are emerging?
  • Web managers are busy people – can use of such tools provide a positive ROI?
We will now try to address these questions, with a focus on use of such tools across the community rather than within an institution or team.

Engaging with the Web Management Community on Twitter

Sceptics will point out that Twitter is full of trivia, and use of Twitter can be time-consuming. Established Twitter users will agree that Twitter is full of trivia – and James Clay’s regular #thisiswhattwitterwascreatedfor tweets seem to confirm such views. But we should also remember that mailing lists and the Web itself are also full of information which are of no interest and are time-consuming to read – indeed it is also worth pointing out that libraries are full of books which are of no interest to individual readers!  The issue is not the tool itself, but the way in which the tool (or the library) is used. And surprisingly for some, Twitter’s apparent simplicity provides a diverse way in which it can be used, beyond telling people what you had for breakfast.

Twitter lists

When Twitter lists first came out it was unclear as to what benefits they would provide. However a number of applications now make use of Twitter lists. I have created a list for IWMW 2012 attendees who have provided a Twitter ID on their registration form. Viewing the  Twitter stream doesn’t provide much value (at the time of writing people are tweeting about a Euro12 football match and what they’re having for tea). However this list can be used in application such as Flipboard enable a personalised newspaper to be created based on content from a variety of sources including RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter. Further examples can be seen in the post on  Who Needs Murdoch – I’ve Got Smartr, My Own Personalised Daily Newspaper! – although the Smartr app is no longer available the post illustrates the concept of how a Twitter list can be used as a filter for links to resources posted in Twitter.


A post entitled How Bottlenose Can Help Turn Twitter into a High Signal Channel illustrated how various tools developed around the Twitter environment can provide ease of access to quality content.

The accompanying screenshot shows a search for the hashtag #eucookielaw.  As can be seen, this enables you to focus in on tweets with other hashtags (such as #iwmw12) or keywords (such as ICO).

The point of these two examples is to illustrate how Twitter can be useful in finding content of interest. However the main purpose of this post is to illustrate how Twitter can be used in the support of a community. We will now explore examples of such uses.

Twitter as an Identity Provider

You do not have to post tweets in order to gain benefits from having a Twitter account.  If you are a speaker at events you can include your Twitter ID on your title slide, along with your email address. This can help you find what people were saying about your talk afterwards e.g. a tweet saying “Great talk by @johnsmith” will arrive in @johnsmith’s incoming messages whereas “Great talk by john smith” will be more difficult to find.


The Lanyrd service enables a user with a Twitter account to link their attendance at an event (as a speaker, delegate or organiser)  with your Twitter account.  As can be seen for the Lanyrd entry for the IWMW 2012 event you can see the 56 people who have currently associated their Twitter ID with the event.  Selecting a user, such as my colleague @MariekeGuy, you can view the other events she has been involved with, as well as the other users she has appeared with at other events.

Social Ties

The Social Ties app, available for the iPhone and Android platforms:

…  shows you which friends are present and list everyone else by our ‘shared interests index’. Anyone you don’t know becomes a ‘discovery’, the highest ranked are those who talk about the same things as you.

This is an example which seems to provide the ability to help develop one’s community of people with shared interests, based on attendance at forthcoming events. As described by the developers:

Social Ties is an iPhone app that utilises advanced AI algorithms to mine Social Network data to provide you with detailed profiles of people at the conference or event that you are attending, and orders the results according to how interesting we think you will find them.

It should be noted that Social Ties gets its event data from Lanyrd.


Unlike the other examples given so far, Shhmooze is not part of the Twitter infrastructure. Rather, as I described last year, Shhmooze  is designed to facilitate networking at an event. We have set up a Shhmooze entry for the IWMW 2012 event and will be inviting delegates to try out the tool during the three day event.


The session on New to the Sector? New to Web Management? New to IWMW? which will be held next Monday “will provide orientation for those who have not attended the event previously or are new to the sector or the community“.  I will give an overview of the IWMW event and suggest that it is not the skills of members of institutional Web teams or the services provided by the teams which have the potential to be the key aspect of a sustainable institutional Web team.  After all, policy makers within the institution are capable of carrying out this search query and looking for alternative providers of Web services. But what members of web teams within the institutions should have is the strength of their community.  Let’s continue to build and develop this community!